How to Make the Best Shave ice At Home

You can make the best shave ice at home, and it’s so quick and easy! You can have the same yummy treat anytime, anywhere!

Shave ice has long been a personal and family favorite. We are from the West, and it’s pretty popular in the areas where we grew up. It was something we looked forward to whenever we went back to visit, and we missed not having it very often. It’s just like Hawaiian shave ice, which is just about the best thing ever!! Shave ice is a light, fluffy texture, similar to the texture of snow. Then you drizzle the top with yummy flavored syrups and extra toppings like sweetened condensed milk (referred to as a snow cap in Hawaii), scoop of vanilla ice cream, or heavy cream. SO yummy! 

About five or so years ago, one of my good friends served us shave ice at her home, and then I had ALL the questions. I was so excited about having it much more often, and especially that it was so so easy. Since then we’ve shared this info to many people, and they’ve all asked because it’s just that good!

How to Make the Best Shaved Ice at Home

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We have a favorite shave ice machine that we absolutely love. In less than 30 seconds you can have the yummiest shave ice ever! Use your own ice cubes, or bagged ice from the store. We love making these for our own family, but also for friends and guests. They’re a popular addition to any of our summer parties, and perfect for by the pool!

We’ve had the same one for almost five years, and it’s running strong. It has dual blades that quickly turn the ice into fluffy snow, and it’s a no-hassle process. Just add ice and press the lid! There are many shave ice machines on the market, and there are lots of syrups you can buy. But these are hands down the best you can get, will you give the best flavor, and the finest shave ice without a huge price tag.

The Best Shave Ice Machine

For our family to go out and buy shave ice (or even ice cream) it’s about $40 or so. With this machine we’ve literally made thousands of shave ice, and our money has been very well spent. We’ve hosted parties, lots of guests, made plenty on summer days for our family, and even take it with us on vacation. This ice shaver machine produces the finest, fluffiest snow-like consistency, which is what shave ice is known for. If you’ve ever had shave ice in Hawaii, and you want to reproduce it at home, this is the machine for you! There are larger machines that use actual large blocks of ice, but that’s definitely more commercial, and much more difficult to use at home–and more expensive.

The Best Shave Ice Machine

The Best Shave Ice Syrups

You can find a lot of syrups that are already made, ready to use in the bottle. We’ve found that these are much less flavorful, and don’t work as well as making it from a concentrate. So we make our own syrup! Our favorite place to buy flavorings is online from Sno Shack, a company that sells everything related to shave ice. Much of it is commercial (the shavers), but the flavors are easy to buy and make, and they are amazing!!

There are so many different flavors, it’s hard to choose. We actually buy a few each year to add to our supply. Our favorites are Tigers Blood (the best!), Black Cherry, Red Raspberry, Root Beer, Bahama Mama, Coconut, Peach, Mango, and Piña Colada. Kid favorites include Cotton Candy, Lemon Lime, Peach, Blue Raspberry, and Pokemon. But I could go on and on…Red Hott, Cinnamon, Butterscotch, Green Apple…there are so many good ones.

The flavors are a concentrate, and you add simple syrup to it to make the final product. We make the simple syrup in a 5 gallon headpack jug with a spigot, add a bit of citric acid and preservative so it lasts, and then we just refill our bottles as needed. For every squeeze bottle we fill, we only use 1 ounce of flavoring, and the concentrate bottles are 16 ounces. We can fill each squeeze bottle 16 times with just that one concentrate. We’ve had some of our flavors for more than 4-5 years, and they aren’t even half gone! It’s a great value at only $10 per bottle.

How to Make the Best Shaved Ice at Home
We will sometimes use “snow cone” instead of “shave ice” since many where we live aren’t as familiar. But now that we’ve served them for a few years, I think next year we’ll change it!

Shave Ice Supplies

This is a list of everything you need. Once you get your syrup made and bottles filled, you’re ready to go for a long time. We can go a whole summer without refilling most of our bottles, except maybe the one or two heavy favorites.

Other than the machine, we get all of our supplies from Sno Shack. They’re much less expensive here than anywhere else we’ve found. Most everything you only buy once. You can also call and order over the phone. Their customer service is amazing, and they’re so helpful!

EASY Simple syrup recipe for Shave Ice

Pour 2 gallons of hot water into a 5-gallon hedpak jug. Add 1 ounce of granule preservative. Shake until granules are completely dissolved (this is VERY important as granules will not dissolve once you add the citric acid). Once granules are dissolved, add 1 ounce of liquid citric acid. Add 25 pounds of sugar and shake well until sugar is dissolved. Fill the hedpak with cold water to the five gallon mark. Once the cold water is added to the 5-gallon mark, shake well to ensure sugar is mixed thoroughly. It takes a day or two for the sugar to completely dissolve.

How To Fill squeeze Bottles

Pour 1 ounce of concentrated flavor into a one quart flavor bottle, then fill the remaining amount with the simple syrup. With tip covered, turn the quart bottle upside down 2-3 times to ensure an evenly distributed flavor.


  1. Make the simple syrup
  2. Fill squeeze bottles

Those two things are only done occasionally. The simple syrup can last a couple of summers, depending on how much you use and how often you make shave ice. The squeeze bottles may need to be filled more than once a summer, also depending on use. Once the prep is done, you’re ready to make shave ice anytime!

  1. Fill the top part of the machine with ice
  2. Place cup under the opening
  3. Press down on lid and fill cup
  4. Add flavoring and any other toppings (See ideas below.)
  5. ENJOY!!

If we are serving a crowd, we shave a bunch of ice ahead of time. Place a large bowl underneath the opening, fill it up, then place “snow” in a cooler. We can do this about an hour ahead of time, and then refill coolers as necessary.

Shave Ice Toppings

  • Heaving Whipping Cream: Add on top of flavor syrups (not whipped, straight from carton)
  • Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • Sweet Cream Topping Recipe (from Sno Shack)
    • 1 16oz can evaporated milk
      1 pint heavy whipping cream
      ½ cup sugar
      1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Vanilla ice cream: Add a scoop to the bottom of the cup before shaving and flavoring the ice. (Try a scoop of ice cream in another flavor too!)


What’s the difference between snow cones and shave ice?

This is a popular question, and there is a definite answer. It all comes down to the ice. Snow cones are made of larger pieces of ice–like little chunks–and has a crunchier consistency. Shave ice is very fine, light, and fluff, like snow. It sounds like a small distinction, but it’s really quite a big difference. The flavor syrups also stick more easily to the fluffier shave ice.

How do you make shave ice fluffy?

It all comes down the machine you use! The machine is super easy to operate, and you can use either ice that your freezer makes, or bagged ice.

Can you make shave ice without a machine?

I did a bit of searching about this, and saw there were a few methods available. They mostly consist of making your own blocks of ice, then using a grater or fork to flake off bits of ice. From what I can tell, it looks like it could work, but with results more similar to a snow cone, rather than fluffy shave ice. I think that it would be really difficult to replicate shave ice without some kind of shaving machine, and be much more time intensive. However, if you’re just interested in a cool summer treat a time or two, and don’t want to purchase anything, then I’d definitely say it’s worth a try!

End-of-year Shave Ice Party!

Every year my friend and I throw an end-of-year shave ice party on the last day of school. Our kids invite their entire classes and all of their friends, and they all come over with their families to get a shave ice and celebrate summer. We go through 70-100 pounds of ice, and plenty of flavoring, and it’s a huge hit every single year.

You’ll notice on my pictures it says “snow cone party”, instead of “shave ice party”. We live in the east, and shave ice isn’t as well known, so we started calling them snow cones first. I think next year we can change the name, now that they’re familiar!

How to Make the Best Shaved Ice at Home

ENJOY!! Please don’t hesitate to ask questions, I’m happy to help!

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